Some people are born with a gift for writing. The words flow easily and effortlessly onto the page, spinning a tale (or truth) that captivates and enthralls or changes the mindset of readers. For these lucky few, like Dawn Charleston-Green, writing is not only a passion; it’s a calling. For her, writing is not just about stringing together a series of words. It’s about creating something that will engage and enlighten her readers. Every word must serve a purpose; every sentence must convey emotion and make an impact to change the reader or the world around them.
Dawn Charleston-Green is a writer who is devoted to making change using the power of words. For over a decade, she has been journaling and writing stories that tackle social issues to promote positive change. Her work often centers around family, personal development, community, and relationships. She believes that everyone has the power to change the trajectory of oneself, and she is dedicated to helping others find and lift their voices. Her books, like “Heeeyy, Dandelion,” inspire people to think differently, challenge assumptions, and start meaningful conversations.
I recently had the chance to chat with writer Dawn about what fuels her passion for writing. She opened up about how she feels called to write stories to inspire people and uses her personal experiences to fuel her creativity and inspire her work. Readers will benefit from her wisdom and insight through the things she shares during this interview.
What is your backstory that led you to find passion in writing?
I grew up for most of my childhood as an only child. I would be 15 years old before my younger brother would come. With that said, I spent a lot of time at home alone without other children to play with. I had to find creative ways to entertain myself. I’ll admit, as girly as most people take me to be, as a child, I enjoyed spending a lot of time outside socializing, exploring, fishing, climbing trees, catching frogs, playing different sports, gardening, and doing other yard work. I still enjoy most of those activities today (minus catching frogs).
While in any of those activities, I’m usually in deep observation and thought, seeing revelation in everything. Those thoughts then have to get out of my head. Some come out through words fairly easily, while others can only come through writing.
Though creative writing is comfortable for me, and poetry comes extremely easy (thus my line name Troubadour – one of song and poetry), my most intimate writing comes during my time of spiritual devotion. Talking to God and processing and deciphering His word…enlightenment and instruction reveal themselves to me in an indescribable way. And I accept that I have been gifted to convey sometimes difficult subjects in a way that others can easily comprehend and receive. So now, every opportunity I get, I try to present new and interesting information to women, children, and families. I’m blessed today to do this primarily through writing.
How many books have you written? What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
Officially, I’ve published and printed two books – 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion and Heeeyy Dandelion, along with their journal companions, as well as a coloring book for Heeeyy Dandelion. However, I am also a blogger, minister, and speaker, so I always write.
The 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion (C.O.F.F.E.E. – an acronym for Chicks of Faith Focused Encouraged & Empowered), written and published in 2021, is a women’s devotional written with the intent of helping Christian women develop and deepen their faith walk and their commitment to daily prayer and meditation. The devotion was intentionally written conversationally and in a shortened form. Though many choose to buy 365-day devotions, the truth is…most don’t finish them. I wanted the 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion to provide a method and message for women to easily complete and dissect lessons and scriptures in a way that would provoke further interest versus intimidation.
I don’t know if this is surprising to me, but it’s usually surprising for others that most of the 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion was taken directly from my epiphanies written in my journal during my devotional time. Yet, my personal notes and prayers…my thoughts to myself…were the things that resonated most with other women.
Though I wrote HEEEYY DANDELION last year, I didn’t publish it until this year. Much of it was taken from a blog I wrote entitled, “Bloom Wherever You Grow, Dandelion!” Written to empower women by seeing their strengths and uniqueness through the attributes of a dandelion, Heeeyy Dandelion was officially birthed after a conversation with my daughter, where she needed to understand these attributes as well. My daughter sometimes struggles with self-esteem and belonging due to being adopted. So, as I mentioned with my devotion, Heeeyy Dandelion, surprising to some, is also written or taken from my personal experiences.
What is the key theme or message in your book(s)?
The key theme or message for both of my books is 1) understanding inner strength and value and 2) also the understanding of knowing the protection and love around us.
In the 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion, the inner strength, and value are supported through scripture and understanding, accepting, and appreciating life experiences. The component of protection and love around us is from GOD.
In Heeeyy Dandelion, both the inner strength and value, as well as the protection and love around us, are supported through validation and encouragement, which comes from FAMILY.
What comes first, the plot/theme or the characters?
Oooo! This is a good one! I’ve never really thought about it, but now with considering… I would have to say I think the theme happens first, and everything else develops around it.
I usually receive some inspiration that prompts my frame of thought, message, and writing. That inspiration stays with me and eventually “dawns” into something colorful and (I’m told) profound.
When I wrote Heeeyy Dandelion, though I knew the theme, I wasn’t sure whether I would reveal that the story was about my daughter. However, I felt it would resonate better with both children and families when they recognized it was a true story, especially with the theme of adoption. Adoption can be such a sensitive topic and comes with unique challenges. Families of this community need to know that others understand their experiences and are willing to share their journey in a transparent and vulnerable way.
On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?
I write every day. On days that I don’t, I usually feel guilty or lost. Even if I’m not working on a blog or book, I still write on pressing thoughts. Though they may not turn into manuscripts today, they could eventually. Or, they may turn into conversations or points I make later. Yes, I try to be intentional with my projects; but I’ve written complete blogs, speeches, or messages only to complete them and then realize they’re either not what I’m supposed to use for the audience or the season.
At times, I can get lost in my writing and my thoughts. There have been times I’ve started early in the morning and stayed up through the next day. When my frame of thought is in creative mode, it’s sometimes hard to cut it off; so I keep going. But regardless of how many words I write, as I proofread and edit, if it doesn’t flow or if certain points seem too much or now irrelevant, I erase them; or at least cut and paste them into my notes to be used later.
In this next season, with school starting back for my daughter, I plan to use this period to reset and refocus. I want to find more balance with my writing to ensure I don’t neglect my devotion, exercise, or family time. Here’s to trying!
Tell us about your first published book. What was the journey like?
If I were to describe the journey to writing my first book, I would have to say it was a bit intimidating. It’s one thing to write, but it’s another to publish for others to read, especially those you don’t know personally. So, that’s one component. Then the other element of intimidation for publishing your first book is figuring out all the ins and outs of self-publishing. Decide on a cover, apply for your copyright, and get your International Standard Book Number (ISBN). As simple as they are to obtain, the imposter syndrome within wants to complicate the process in your mind.
I had a formatting issue when I first sent the final manuscript to the printer. I remember being so disappointed. It took me almost six months to make the needed corrections and do a reprint. Once I made up my mind to finish, it took hours to make the necessary corrections. The reprint was just as I had hoped, and I had to laugh at myself for my hesitation.
After overcoming that hurdle, everything else went smoothly for the most part. I developed my marketing strategy for promoting the book and stuck to it, and I was extremely excited with how well it was received.
How much ‘word-building’ takes place before you start writing?
I love building on words, phrases, and themes and using alliteration in my writing. I won’t say much of that takes place before I write. It usually just comes to life as I’m writing. I believe that this approach helps young readers remain attentive and connected to the writing as they read and also helps adult readers.
In Heeeyy Dandelion, I use broader vocabulary throughout the story. My son, now 24 years old, taught me when he was a toddler not to underestimate children’s intellectual ability. They’ll gravitate to and build upon whatever you introduce them to. This is true of words and comprehension.
The accelerated vocabulary in Heeeyy Dandelion is highlighted throughout the story, with reference to the definition at the bottom of relevant pages. It also includes a full glossary and check-on learning at the story’s conclusion.
I’ve been thoroughly pleased with how well children of all ages have been able to use context clues and inferences during and after readings, as well as the connection adults make with Heeeyy Dandelion. So much so, I often share that “Heeey Dandelion is considered a children’s book because of its colorful illustrations, not because its message is elementary.”
How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book as you are writing?
The emotional impact helps me know that the book will connect with others. Both the 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion and Heeeyy Dandelion affected me emotionally as I was writing.
Some might believe that too much emotion wouldn’t be good for a book, with the concern that the author might not be able to realistically discuss it in-person or that it could be unrelatable for some readers. However, I believe that as long as the author can communicate the subject matter effectively, their emotional connectedness makes them appear more personable, creating a place of hope or empathy for readers who aren’t familiar with the experience.
As I read the 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion, I reflect on the message and become excited, not only from the revelation of scripture but also from my growth as an individual since this information was revealed to me. While Heeeyy Dandelion, to this day, still makes me cry as I read it. Reading it aloud, I believe, draws the reader in and makes the emotion even stronger and more believable.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you? How do you overcome it?
The writing isn’t difficult, but trying to make sure everything flows and connects can sometimes be frustrating. Sometimes, each component will make sense but not necessarily cohesively. To overcome this, I’ll continue to read it to myself, step away from it for a while, and then read it aloud. If, after each of those approaches, it still doesn’t seem to be coming together, I’ll read it out loud to someone else and/or send it to a few trusted people to read it and give me feedback. I’m usually able to pull it together after that. But if it still doesn’t work, I’ll put it away for a while to see if something happens to make it click. Eventually, it does.
How can people connect with you, find your books, etc.?
For those who would like to connect with me, they can find me at Dawn of a New Day 365 – a movement for women journeying through everyday life (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unexpected); overcoming with truth and transparency in a way that leads to transformation. There I provide content and conversations on topics important to women to help them realize they are not alone in their experiences.
Those interested in joining the DND365 movement can go to the Dawn of a New Day 365 Facebook Page or VIP Women’s Group. Or, they can follow my personal page at Dawn Charleston-Green.
I can also be found on Instagram @dawnofanewday365; and on Pinterest and YourTube at Dawn of a New Day 365.
If anyone is interested in reading my blogs or purchasing the 5-Day Morning C.O.F.F.E.E. Devotion, go to www.dawnofanewday365.com. Details for my children’s book Heeeyy Dandelion can be found at www.heeeyydandelion.com.